REACT 2008 – An exercise in scholarship?

We’re about to embark on a little experiment in the scholarship of learning and teaching going under the tag react2008. The fundamental aim is to help improve the quality of papers we will write that are targeted for publication at EdMedia’2009. The experiment is going by the names of either react2008 or writers’ workshop. The project as a central website.

Other aims of the project include

  • Helping some of the less experienced researchers develop some insight into one way of developing and writing papers – of performing research.
  • Help the participants gain some appreciation of the differences of perspective within the group and how those differences compliment each other.
  • Increasing the quantity and quality of research outputs of CDDU and the PLEs@CQUni project.

This post is intended to give a brief description of how the whole thing might work.

Subsequent posts will start talking about implementation issues and what’s next. After that each of the steps will be expanded and tasks allocated.

Principles and Background

The ideas underpinning this exercise is much informed by the Reflection, Evaluation and Collaboration in Teaching (REACT) project. The react2008 project will have a very different aim and process, however, it will be based on/informed by many of the same principles and foundations of the original REACT process.

In particular, react2008 will draw on the ideas of Shulman (1993) around the scholarship of L&T, in particular, the importance of

  • Communication and community
    react2008 will use face-to-face discussions and social network software to create a community of researchers who will have to communicate with each other about their process of writing and research.
  • Creation of an artifact
    react2008 participants are creating a paper as their final artifact. There will also be other artifacts produced along the way in terms of wiki pages and presentations.
  • Peer review
    A key part of the react2008 process is that there will be peer review throughout the process of the discussion and artifacts produced by the participants.

How will it work

react2008 will use a simple process with a small number of steps as the framework through which people will develop, implement and write about their research idea. There is no claims made that this is the only process, the best process, a sequential process or broadly suitable to all people.

However, there is a claim that it is a fairly generic process that provides enough structure to provide participants with a common language to talk about their process and enough freedom to do their own thing in terms of process and research perspective. Usefulness is seen as more important than ideological adherence.

Most steps in the process will require the production of an artifact and the submission of that artifact to a semi-structured peer-review process. The participants will be expected to both produce their artifacts and comment on the artifacts of others. The artifacts and the communication/review will be primarily done through blogs and wiki.

The current suggested list of steps is summarised below. A later post will expand in more detail on these steps.

The steps are:

  1. What’s the problem problem? What’s the question?
    The aim of research is, in this context, always seen as an attempt to solve a problem or answer a question. The first step is to develop a statement about what the research problem or question is about. (remember this isn’t a sequential process, this step will be revisited numerous times).
  2. What type of knowledge are you going to contribute?
    This work assumes that there are different types of knowledge (of theory) produced in research. Depending on the type of knowledge you wish to generate/contribute you will use different types of method.
  3. How are you going to develop that knowledge?
    You have to use some sort of appropriate process to develop the knowledge you want to write about. There are multiple choices, you need to be clear about what process and why you will be using.
  4. How does this knowledge add to and fit with existing knowledge?
    It’s important that you know how this knowledge you will generate fits with existing knowledge in the area. You need to be able to explain why it is valuable.
  5. What do you need to do to make it fit with the outlet?
    Different publication outlets have different perspectives and difference approaches are required to get accepted. You need to become familiar with the outlet.
  6. Do the work.
    At this stage you need to generate the knowledge.
  7. Give a presentation.
    Once you’ve generated the knowledge you need to begin work on presenting it to folk in some sort of finished form. A presentation will precede writing of the paper.
  8. Write the paper.
    The actual process of turning the knowledge into an appropriate form for the publication outlet.
  9. Respond to reviewer comments.
    An art form in itself.
  10. Present the paper.
    If we’re talking about a conference, then another presentation is required to further refine the initial presentation.

2 thoughts on “REACT 2008 – An exercise in scholarship?

  1. Jocene Vallack

    I find the links in this writing workshop information very enlightening. A little nutshell for me was Stephen Fry’s comment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0 that Web 2 is about uploading as well as downloading.

    I am staggered that the skulky, pedagogical values, which seem to underpin this Web 2 stuff, are so akin to my own subversive inclinations. For an AUQA review last year, I was required to help (instruct) lecturers to write course-learning objectives that show infallible alignment with preset assessment criteria. It’s standard practice, as you would know. I remember someone gasping when I blurted out in frustration something about it being just a farce, and that we just have to make it look like we can measure learning and be accountable for assessment grades. I have never felt comfortable pretending that I can foresee, or necessarily even understand, what others will create, let alone allocate it some numerical grade. I am ever troubled by this unrelenting practice in education.

    I have been wondering why I identify with the end-users that Sandy Behren’s (2007) colleague describes:

    “End users are demanding, self-centered, narrow minded, shallow and completely detached from technological reality.”
    (http://www.cio.com/article/125451/Time_to_Rethink_Your_Relationship_With_End)

    Yep. I think it might have something to do with personality profiles. According to the Myer/Briggs test, which purports to measure (here we go again) one’s personality traits within variables such as introversion/extroversion; thinking/feeling; sensing/intuiting; judgment/perception, some of us are just not wired for certain types of teaching methods. I suspect that the end-users described above, unlike their critics, might have a good share of intuitive/feeling/perceptive traits. This would make them bored with detail and recalcitrant towards mindless conformity.

    SEE (http://www.personalitypathways.com/type_inventory.html)

    Thinking Characteristics –
    -Instinctively search for facts and logic in a decision situation.
    -Naturally notices tasks and work to be accomplished.
    -Easily able to provide an objective and critical analysis.
    -Accept conflict as a natural, normal part of relationships with people.

    Feeling Characteristics
    -Instinctively employ personal feelings and impact on people in decision situations
    -Naturally sensitive to people needs and reactions.
    -naturally seek consensus and popular opinions.
    -Unsettled by conflict; have almost a toxic reaction to disharmony

    Sensing Characteristics
    -Mentally live in the Now, attending to present opportunities
    -Using common sense and creating practical solutions is automatic-instinctual
    -Memory recall is rich in detail of facts and past events·
    -Best improvise from past experience
    -Like clear and concrete information; dislike guessing when facts are “fuzzy”

    Intuitive Characteristics
    -Mentally live in the Future, attending to future possibilities
    -Using imagination and creating/inventing new possibilities is automatic-instinctual
    -Memory recall emphasizes patterns, contexts, and connections
    -Best improvise from theoretical understanding
    -Comfortable with ambiguous, fuzzy data and with guessing its meaning

    Perhaps building with some of Behren’s (2007) recent work, I would be keen to start with questions about the possible relationships between personality types, conventional learning management systems and Web 2 philosophy/ies.

  2. Sandy

    Hi Jocene,

    Before I begin with a full reply let me just say that I’m glad my paper has found a connection with you and your own experiences working with teaching and learning staff. Additionally, it is nice to see someone being so frank about their own experiences – you are not afraid to say that you believe certain things are a farce. This actually connects well with my most recent work written up in the paper “Fact or Fiction: The philosophy of fictions in IS research”. The basic gist is that many things we do are farces or fictions. The main point is – (as I highlight in the paper) – in consciously recognizing this.

    I have too, for some time now, been interested in the personality types and the interconnection with learning; both as a teacher and as a learner. After reading your response, I am wondering what your personality type is? Perhaps we might be able to talk further about some possible connections or simply have more of a chat. Either way I look forward to meeting you at the workshop.

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